Image by Gary Langford

Gary Langford

b. 1947


I shall try to do likewise, / Determined to go beyond tears, / in the memory of being happy. - Gary Langford, 'Determined Thought'

Reflections on the Beast

Gary Langford

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About Gary Langford

Gary Langford (b. 1947, Christchurch) is a New Zealand poet and author with more than twenty books to his name, including eight volumes of poetry. His literary career includes editorships and teaching positions in his native country and Australia, and he is a co-ordinator of New Zealand poets for the Poetry Archive.

Langford breaks his reading into seven sections, covering material from family issues to the history of warfare, working in serious and comical veins to embrace both performance and writing styles. It is a performance, therefore, that can stretch from the oppressive creature that haunts 'Reflections on the Beast' to the light-hearted story of almost-accidental sex occurring on a plane as it falls from the sky in 'What to Do in a Planecrash'.

He is a poet interested in voices, and several of the poems in this performance use the monologue form, or slip into the voice of a character within a poem. 'The Family Takes a Commercial Break' presents a listener with the private inner thoughts of four members of a TV-dinner-eating family during a cut in their programme, for example, while 'Parrot Lady' is spoken in the persona of a dead woman watching her daughter-in-law's ongoing life. The poet's own voice, however, appears seemingly without disguise in poems such as '21 Pieces of Advice on the Path to Wisdom,' which he tells us was written for his own daughter's twenty-first birthday.

Langford's interest in voice and performance shows in his reading with a clear, mellow delivery, providing introductions to each of the seven sections that help place a poem for a listener. His poem 'The Garden' speaks of us searching for "voices able to obtrude the false and fickle", and listeners may hear how far his poetry, and his performance of it, show the results of his efforts in that search, culminating in how we are all 'Travelers'.

Recorded on 6 February 2008 at Tandem Voice Booth, Christchurch
Produced by Jonny Pipe

Selected bibliography

Cafe Sonnets, Cold Hub Press, 2010

Gary Langford Reading from his Poems, The Poetry Archive...

The family, Fragments Press, 1972

The death of James Dean and other stories, Randolph...

Players in the ballgame, Macmillan, 1979

The adventures of Dreaded Ned, Randolph Press, 1980

Four ships, Randolph Press, 1982

Vanities : a novel, Macmillan, 1984

The pest exterminator's Shakespeare : poems, Macarthur...

Links

Recordings

Gary Langford Reading from his Poems

1Introduction

2The Women of our Family

3The Men of Our City

4This Morning

5Reflections on the Beast

6The Family Takes a Commercial Break

7Pastoral

8TV Stars Week

9But I Didn't

10Detention

11From the Burns Unit

1221 Pieces of Advice on the Path to Wisdom

13Tom Paine 1946-

14Plan of Strange City

15I Say, You Say

16Parrot Lady

17At Writers Week

18History of Air

19Sheep in the Bay

20Flight of the Albatross

21Parable

22Alike 23Eggs

24Youth V Age

25Now That You've Gone

2613 Ways of Looking at Food

27Make War Not Love

28Baby Crying on an Autumn Morning

29What to Do in a Planecrash

30Being Old

31Rainwoman

32Fishbone

33The Garden

34She

35Glassroom Hill

36Migrants

37Nightwalk

38Determined Thought

39The Scholar Investigates a Classroom Crime

40Travelers

A tour of the Archive with Monica Ali

On my initial visit to the Poetry Archive, the historical recordings caught my attention first. I did not know that...

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Books & cds by Gary Langford